Can-Am Spyder: 11 Questions Answered (For Beginners)

The Can-Am is a three-wheeled recreational vehicle.

Unlike a trike, it utilizes a single wheel in the rear and two wheels up front.

This reverse trike setup uses rear-wheel-drive to function like a snowmobile on wheels, but wait… its chassis is more like an ATV?

We decided to hit the books and answer some of the Can-Am Spyder’s fundamental questions.

Are Can-Am Spyder Safe?

The Can-Am Syder is safe, thanks to the three-wheel design and ATV-style chassis. With two wheels up front and one powered wheel located in the back. The Spyder is made safe by the “y-factor” of its wheel set up.

The Y-factor makes the Can-AM safer and more stable than some of the other three-wheel street cruisers on the market today.

Furthermore, the Spyder is stocked full of the market’s most promising safety components and electronic monitoring and management features.

Standard, tried and true safety features such as:

  • ABS (anti-lock brakes)
  • Traction control
  • Stability management

All work together to add layers of security to the Can-Am experience, not to mention the Can-Am Spyder is also fully automatic.

Onboard ECU management systems and safety features, ATV chassis concept, the Y-factor of the three-wheel layout, and automatic transmission all work together to make the Can-Am Spyder one of the most reliable open-air three-wheel recreational cruisers around.

Is the Can-Am Spyder Good for Beginners?

The Can-AM is a good choice for beginners looking to get into a three-wheeled open-air experience. 25% of Can-Am Spyders have no previous experience riding not only a three-wheeler, but they also have no experience riding a motorcycle either.  

When operating a Can-Am Spyder, steering, balancing, and leaning aren’t factors like a two-wheel motorcycle.

That said, riding a Spyder won’t prepare you or teach you how to ride a motorcycle.

The physics of riding a Spyder are closer to that of a snowmobile or an ATV.

If you’re considering a Can-Am Spyder for now and think you might want to switch to something more like a motorcycle down the road, take a Motorcycle Safety Course for beginners.

They’ll set you up with a small two-wheeled street bike to learn on.

At that point, you’ll know if that’s the fix you’re looking for or if a three-wheeled Spyder is more up your street.

Be advised: the physics and mechanics involved in operating a Can-Am Spyder will not prepare you for motorcycle operation.

What is the Difference between Can-Am Ryker and Spyder?

There are notable distinctions between the Can-Am Ryker and Can-Am Spyder. Can-Am designed the Ryker as a beginner model, stripped-down, smaller, less tricked out and therefore cheaper. The Spyder is more luxurious, has more features and storage capacity.

Ryker (top), Spyder (bottom).

You may also be interested in our article: Can-Am Ryker: 14 Beginner Questions (Answered)

Type of Riding

The Ryker is much more compact and is known for its sporty look and feel its ideal for short trips and city zipping.

The Spyder is more comfortable, luxurious and is a better choice for those who are taking longer rides or touring across the country.

However you can use the Ryker and Spyder for any type of riding.

Passengers

The Spyder is a better choice if you are going to have a passenger – the back seat is very comfortable and some models feature heated handles and heated seats.

The Ryker can be customized to accommodate a passenger although as standard there is only 1 seat.

Budget

Price is also something you’ll need to consider.

  • The 2021 Spyder F3 went for $15,999, while the top-shelf Spyder RT went for $23,299.
  • The 2021 Ryker went for $8,799.

Transmission

The Spyder comes with a semi-automatic transmission which means you’ll need to use a paddle shifter to change gears as your riding – it will downshift automatically as you brake.

The Ryker is fully automatic, so you simply twist and go.

Engine

The Ryker comes standard with a Rotax ACE Engine, which produces outstanding gas mileage and dependability. It comes in two engine-displacement options, a 600cc and a 900cc.

The upside Spyder gets a bigger and badder Rotax 1330 ACE Engine, a triple-cylinder configuration increases torque, motor performance, and throttle response.

Do Can-Am Spyders have Reverse?

The Spyder has a reverse gear and power steering, making reversing up and down hills possible. The reverse gear works together with power steering, traction control, ABS, stability control, and rear and front brakes. Reversing and going forward are controlled by the same foot pedal.

The reverse gear comes standard on Spyders; an upgrade gives Spyder buyers the added option of an electric shift (clutchless) gearbox.

The following is an excerpt from the Can-Am Spyder’s operation manual:

Shifting Into Reverse (SM5 Model)

  1. With engine running, shift into first gear.
  2. Hold in the clutch lever.
  3. Press and hold the reverse button.
  4. Step down on the shift lever onestroke.
  5. Release the reverse button and
  6. Check that the letter “R” flashes on the multifunction gauge and the backup lights turn on.

Shifting Into Reverse (SE5 Model)

  1. With engine running, the roadster stopped, and the brake depressed, shift into first gear or neutral.
  2. Press and hold the reverse button.
  3. Pull the gearshift selector toward you to downshift to reverse.

Driving in Reverse

  1. Check that the area behind you is clear continue to look backward while you operate in reverse.
  2. Keep your speed low and do not back up for long distances.

Shifting Out of Reverse (SM5 Model)

  1. To shift out of reverse, hold in the clutch and lift the shift lever once to shift into first.
  2. You do not need to use the reverse button — it resets automatically.

Shifting Out of Reverse (SE5 Model)

To shift out of reverse, stop vehicle and push on upshift selector quickly to shift into neutral and more longer to shift in first gear.”

Source: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/851614/Can-Am-Spyder-Rt.html?page=46

Are Can-Am Spyders worth the Money?

Can-Am Spyders are worth the money if you’re looking for an efficient, safe, easy to handle, but fun to ride open-air cruiser vehicle with three wheels. They have loads of comfort and electronic-enhanced safety features.

That said, if what you’re looking for is an entry-level learning situation for motorcycle riding, the Can-Am isn’t worth the money.

It’s close in price to top-of-the-line motorcycles and won’t prepare you for the agility, mechanical operation,  and balance you’ll have to learn if you intend on riding a bike down the road.

The Spyder was designed mainly to hit a brand new market; an open-air cruiser that’s easy to ride and utilizes pedal controls and reverse gears to provide an exhilarating experience.

If that’s what you’re looking for, the Spyder is worth the money.

Are Can-Am Spyder Fast?

The Can-Am Spyder can go 120 mph, although there are some anecdotal reports from owners having reached 128 mph.

Owners also report that the speedo is a bit optimistic so whilst you think you’re hitting 120 you’re probably closer to 115.

Is a Can-Am Spyder Considered a Motorcycle?

The Spyder is legally considered as a motorcycle, despite the fact that Can-Am classifies it as a “roadster”. That said, the Spyder employs a snowmobile-on-wheels design and stocks a chassis that’s more akin to an ATV. 

In California, Delaware, Nevada, and South Carolina, only a standard driver’s license is required for the Spyder, though in California, Spyder riders are obligated to wear helmets like motorcyclists.

Are Can-Am Spyder Cool?

The Can-Am Spyder is cool when you think of it as a three-wheel convertible that utilizes a motorcycle seating position and control configuration rather than the car-like setup other open-air cruisers use.

The Spyder is also cool in the sense that it’s a smooth-riding, laid-back-throttling experience likened to driving an overtly powerful go-kart.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty rad to me.

Are Can-Am Spyder Automatic?

Initially, the automatic transmission was an upgrade option on Spyders. Still, since the launch of the 2020 year models, all Spyders are fitted with what Can-Am calls a “semi-automatic transmission”.  The Can-Am Ryker model, on the other hand, comes standard with a fully automatic continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

The Spyder uses the semi-manual transmission to give more advanced riders a more engaging option similar to motorcycle operation; a left-foot-actuated shifter and a left-hand-actuated clutch.

The rider activates the braking to all three wheels via a single, right foot brake pedal, as in a car.

How Much does a Can-Am Spyder Weigh?

A Spyder weighs 987 lb (449 kg). That said, it handles more like driving a car than a motorcycle, so its weight isn’t as much of a hindrance. You use the handlebars to steer instead of your body.

Due to the Spyder’s weight and its Y-shaped wheelbase, they’re more stable than a motorcycle, making the extra weight a minimal factor.

1,000 pounds sounds like a lot when you’re picturing yourself holding it upright and stable when you’re stopped at a traffic light, but that’s not the case with a Spyder.

Its weight is due to its unique design, which comes with a few bonuses.

One such bonus is extra visibility on roads.

Many 2-wheel motorcycle accidents happen because car drivers are unaware of their presence on the road.

The heavyweight Spyder has more width, making it more effortless for fellow rivers to notice you.

  • The Spyder’s weight has much to do with its comfort-centric design. Can-AM equips them with extra-long floorboards for comfort on long rides.
  • It also has plush rider and passenger heated seats—another feature that brings a few extra pounds on deck.
  • The Spyder also has supreme wind protection. The engineering behind this feature adds some weight as well.

The extra weight on the Spyder brings extra stability, making it a viable option for potential riders who might not be confident enough to experience the open road on two-wheels

The rugged Spyder is also a solid choice for people who can’t ride a motorcycle due to health or physical cases, like the disabled and the elderly.

The Spyder’s stability makes riding in bad weather or on sandy/gravel landscapes more straightforward than a motorcycle despite its extra weight.

The Can-Am Spyder is a street-legal vehicle, classified as a three-wheeled motorcycle, although Can-AM considers it to be a recreational roadster. Still, license requirements vary from state to state.

While some states require a Class (M)otorcycle license to operate a Spyder, others only require a standard auto license.

How Much does a Can-Am Spyder Cost?

The base model 2020 Spyder F3 was priced at $15,999. The fully dressed and upgraded Spyder RT came with all the bells, whistles, and special features with a price tag of $23,299.

You may also be interested in our article: Are Can-Am Spyders Reliable?

Can a Can-Am Spyder Wheelie?

A Spyder can’t do wheelies because the rear wheel loading is so low, so there’s not enough traction is lacking. The Spyder has fat tires, sure, but no downforce. Shifting your weight to the rear on a two-wheeled motorcycle that weighs half as much as a Spyder allows force to lift the front end.

Some people who claim they do wheelies on a Spyder probably misinterpreted the chassis staggering back onto the rear suspension.

Can you Tow a Can-Am Spyder?

You can not tow a Can-Am Spyder with a tow dolly. The singularly safe method to employ a tow dolly for towing a Spyder without causing damage is to remove the drive belt.

  • Removing the drive belt is a significant;y complex task; reinstalling it every time you want to ride during your trip would be inefficient. 
  • For best results, pull your Spyder on a flatbed trailer with suspension rated for greater than 1,000 pounds.

What Are Some Alternative Options?

ModelBase MSRP
Can-Am Spyder$15,999
Can-Am Ryker$8,499
Polaris Slingshot$19,999
Goldwing Trike$25,000
Harley Trike$28,499